Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Yes, the snow did come

The chilly cold and snow of winter came overnight. What weird weather we are having here – it was almost summer-like on Sunday! On Tuesday morning, winds swirled the snow in every direction and we couldn't see clearly through the windows.




The pink flowers of the drumstick primulas could only just been seen in the white carpet we now had. As the wind direction changed I went out and swiped clean the snow droplets covering the glass. Now, I could use my camera from indoors.




The snow continued all morning but by lunchtime there was a break in the weather just long enough for a quick dash around the garden to see the damage. As expected, many flowering plants were on the ground, flattened by the wind and snow.






However, after the unseasonably warm weather of March many flowers were ahead of themselves. Having had a busy weekend, I didn’t realise my (eagerly awaited) cuckoo flowers were in flower.

Perhaps this was just as well as I would have been cringing at the snowflakes! In all three areas where the cuckoo flowers were growing they were flattened but behind my gate where the fence sheltered the ground a little the stems were longer and they looked worse.




The upside to this instant winter weather was the instant garden full of birds! Joining the Blackbirds, Dunnocks, Robin, Woodpigeons and Starlings was a large mixed groups of finches (Goldfinches, Chaffinches, Siskins). A male Brambling was spotted in the group (not in the photos or video below) which was a bit of a surprise at this time of year.




Another surprise sighting at my feeders was a good sized group of Greenfinches. I spotted six at this feeder but there may have been more at other feeding areas. This is very good news for this species that has seen a decline in numbers over the last few years.

I had to grab a video of the Greenfinches… note there seems to be a pair sharing or helping each other with food. You should also note that there is background music with this video as it is taken from inside and through a window. It isn’t a long video and you can select higher quality if you wish. The video is followed by a photo of a pair of Siskins catching the sunshine.






During the afternoon, we had brief breaks in the snow where the sun got out on occasions and then several hailstone showers followed. Many areas almost completely cleared of snow only for it to return again a short while later.

The montage below shows more flowers that faced the cold temps, winds and snows of Tuesday. I didn’t realise my dwarf rhododendron was in flower, a bergenia was in flower and that I had my first allium flower bud of the year almost ready to open in my (usually sunny) front garden.




At around midnight the ground had a light dusting of snow again and it felt icy cold! As I was sorting my photos and writing this post I was watching my Live cam in my hedgehog feeding station (Hedgehog Manor).

To be completely honest, I didn’t expect to see any hedgehogs out at all seeing as it was so cold. To my complete surprise again, I did and saw the same hedgehog visit twice! This hog is a funny one to watch as it comes in and leaves at speed eating and drinking for just a short time on each visit. I think this one could be a female.

For the moment, I’m grabbing photos of every hedgehog visitor I see Live via my cams - although many more could be visiting that I miss completely. I’ll post an update on hedgehog stories soon. Below you can see our guests on Tuesday evening - yes, our nestbox has a roosting Blue tit!




My final thoughts for my ‘back to winter’ garden have to be for the bees that have been about recently (seen red and buff tailed ones) and the butterflies that I was enjoying seeing in our previously warm, sunny days (small tortoiseshell & peacock).

If you are experiencing a ‘back to winter’ garden or haven’t left winter yet do stay warm and safe on the roads. Brrrrrr... the wind can be heard through the microphone on the live cams... it doesn't sound nice out there! Oh dear... just looked out the window before going to bed and there are heavy snowflakes swirling around. Mm.. maybe they'll be gone by morning and this has all just been a weird dream ;-)


This post was written by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch in April 2012.

19 comments:

Rohrerbot said...

Very exciting time at your place:) Love the cams of the hedgehog and birds. I hope your plants are damaged or stunted from the strange weather.

Orchids and Nature said...

It's so disappointing when spring arrives so early because from experience it always reverts back to the norm. This morning 4th April we woke up to a blizzard the snow had moved south from up your place. I always feel sorry for the flowers that have been dashed down by the snow and the early spring migrants that have just started to arrive from Africa, but looking on the brighter side the sun has burst out and in the shelter from the cold NE wind at least there's a bit of warmth in it.

Gaz@AlternativeEden said...

Oh blimey, snow!

We havent had any snow down here in Bedfordshire fortunately. Hopefully will escape as the gardening is really starting to wake up now.

Frank said...

Well Shirl ... the forecasters obviously got it right for the north. We still have some sunshine (for the moment) down south BUT still no rain and a hosepipe ban is now in force.

I know its disheartning to see the havoc wreaked by the snow but I'm sure some plants will get through it. Like you my fear is for the Butterflies, Bees and other insects if we have a prolonged cold period just as the birds here are starting their nesting programmes.

Janet said...

Helllo Shirl,

lovely post. Lots of things are happening in your garden.

Here in Manchester it's cold and sleety but not too bad -the Pennines are protecting us.

Bridget said...

Shocking to have snow after the blissful weather of last week.

Sue@G.L. Allotments said...

I felt so sorry for the poor flowers. The weather has brought back our pair of bullfinches. We have had a mix of finches too but not many greenfinches.

No siskins visited us this year and we've never spotted a bramblling but make up for it with large numbers of goldfinches!

Liz said...

Hi Shirl,

I hope the snow's now gone for you. We had some this morning but now much - although other parts of the city seems to have been much deeper than here. It's all gone now thankfully but we're left with cold, windy and rainy-sleety.

Crystal said...

We got the snow here today in Yorkshire. The birds must have been very hungry, they've nearly emptied my feeders. And my daffodils, oh dear. Still the snow's melted now, and they've forecast sunshine for tomorrow. Crazy weather.

shirl said...

Hello everyone, thanks for your comments :-)

Rohrerbot, I really have a small garden for the activity that goes on in it. Thanks, lots of plants were flattened so time will tell if things get back to normal :-)

David, yes our climate changes do mix things up a bit don’t they. However, I would say that there is a slow shift going on. Yes, I saw the news images of your area. I hope you didn’t lose power. I never thought about early spring migrants getting caught up in our mixed up weather :-)

Frank, ah… I’ve been thinking of everyone about to get hosepipe bans. Pre snow we’ve not had too much rain up here either – not the norm for us at all – I’ve had to top up bird baths! Wishing you rain soon. Oh yes, plants can be pretty resilient – time will tell. Re nesting birds, I had heard that it’s the increasing daylight hours that trigger nesting. I think that must be true as ours have continued nest building through cold snaps in the past.

Janet, thank-you :-) Yes, I could spend too much time watching all that’s going on in my garden but this year I need to complete some projects so I need to be a gardener that does and not one that talks about doing ;-) Good to hear you’ve been spared the conditions in the North of England.

Bridget, you are so right – so very weird :-)

Sue, yes, me too. Ah… you too are having the benefits of colder weather re bird visitors. I’ll take a guess that all the siskins are up here… they do seem to be increasing in numbers. They nest nearby too and bring in their young after fledging. Yes, lots of Goldfinches up here too – the challenge is always in counting them isn’t it :-)

Liz, thanks, yes it’s mostly gone although hanging about on the hills. It’s still pretty cold. I was thinking about you and wondered if you had been caught up with a bad spell. Brrrr… this cold is such a shock after the glorious sunny days we’ve had up here. I’m an April fool and how lucky was I to get such a glorious sunny summer-like day for my birthday! Sitting in SQ having lunch looking across to the Forth Bridges, the area was bustling with people and we felt like we were on holiday – how bizzare our weather has been.

Crystal, oh dear… I saw the images on the news reports. Good to hear your snow has melted and you could get sunshine tomorrow. Yes, the cold always brings so many more birds to the feeders. It’s more than hunger that brings them too as they need to eat energy rich foods to have enough energy to survive the cold nights. Our bird feeders do keep birds alive during cold spells – it can be an expensive time for us refilling them too! Really crazy weather :-o

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I hope that by the time you read my comment the snow has melted and all is more normal. What is normal now?? We have had 2 months of summer temperatures. My poor garden has been on overdrive which has driven me. I look forward to my days at work so I can rest. Ha.. Your poor flowers. I wouldn't be surprised if we had such an event. It would be historical but so has the been the weather we have been having. The birds look especially beautiful in the snow. Your poor hedgehogs. I bet they wonder what happened to their world. They usually sleep through this mess. Best of luck with your flowers and bees.

Christina said...

Wow! Snow! Plants are more resilient than we think sometimes so I’m sure all yours will recover. Your images of the birds are fabulous as usual, we’ve had lots of butterflies too this year. We are also forecast a cold few days, although I hope not with snow. Christina

Angela said...

Yikes, the dreaded snow. However, your pictures brought out the beauty of it and your garden. Very nice.

Miss Lady Bug said...

I like your site and I nominated it for the Sunshine Award. I think it's a fun award and I hope you find it interesting:

http://www.missladybugsgarden.com/1/post/2012/04/sunshine-award.html

ShySongbird said...

So sorry to be late commenting Shirl and also to have missed commenting on your previous post, I am really struggling to keep up and having intermittent WIFI connection problems doesn't help at all, I think the router may be failing :-(

Anyway, I loved all the beautiful flowers on the last post and it is such a shame to see, on this post, what the snow did to them. We didn't have snow but it is much more Wintry again and has rained all day today, which is very much needed. We had barely any rain for the last twelve months!!

Lovely to see all the birds the snow brought into your garden, it did look busy at the feeder :-)

Good to see the Hedgehog stoking up against the cold too.

Hope you have had a lovely Easter!

Midmarsh John said...

Playing catch up Shirl - great to see many birds taking advantage of your feeders, especially so many Greenfinches. Looks as though they have a similar bonding / mating ritual to Robins where the male feeds the female.
We missed out on the snow, I'm pleased to say, though the drop in temperature came as a bit of a shock.

Sarah Raven said...

What a spectacular amount of birds - a very welcome addition to any garden during a snow shower...

shirl said...

Hello again, thanks for your comments – l should add here that our snow only lasted a day and although our temps dropped we are getting warm sunny days too and we have a sunny blue sky morning for April 13th :-)

Lisa, yes – the snow has gone :-) Yes, the warmer weather had driven us too (doing garden maintenance jobs) Hope your flowers didn’t get flattened by snow like this. Guessing you are busy in your garden just now. Enjoy :-)

Christina, yes – here was me thinking the weather peeps were being over cautious too. Snow didn’t last long. Eventually plants picked up again. Enjoy many butterfly sightings – don’t see snow postings on your blog so guessing you escaped it. Nice tulip posting there and loved the longer shots of your garden and wisteria – I love my white flowering one too :-)

Angela, thanks for stopping by and your kind comment. Now that the rain has stopped for a couple of days I’ll get out into the garden to capture how quickly everything is growing – might even get some gardening done too :-)

Miss Lady Bug, thanks for stopping by. Thanks again, that was kind of you to nominate my blog :-) Taking a look at your blog – the word sunshine certainly comes to mind. A colourful blog reflecting the sunshine required to grow all you feature. Nice job :-)

Jan, you know, I know how time goes. Guessing, like me at the moment, you’re not blogging into the wee small hours anymore :-) Oh… real pain when with tech issue on PC – that’s usually the time I really want to post too! Delighted you caught the post with the birds (especially Greenfinch video which I was delighted to get as we don’t see them all year). Knowing you are a fan of Lady’s smock I thought you’d like that image and the hedgehog news too. Wishing you a good weekend :-)

John, need to do some catch-up too! Yes, the Greenfinches were quite a surprise that day and have been visiting feeders every day since. Interesting, never seen two Robins close at all except in territory battles. Delighted to see you have nesting in your box – best wishes for a successful Great tit brood this year :-)

Sarah, thanks for stopping by. I agree, that’s the brighter side of cold and snow especially during times of the year when there are fewer plant features in the garden. I’ve had fun ‘making’ a tree feature for my garden feeders which I’ll share soon – perhaps a tip for those with small gardens :-)

Vesna - Kalipso said...

It was the same here, in Croatia. Frosty mornings damaged lots of new shooting plants.